Southern Illinois school officials prepare for in-person instruction in the fall

Regional superintendent pleads for parents' patience in the process
Updated: Jun. 24, 2020 at 3:58 PM CDT
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SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Southern Illinois schools are slated to re-open in the fall, but as questions still remain, school officials plead for parents’ patience.

Regional Superintendent Lorie LeQuatte heads up 28 school districts in four southern Illinois counties: Massac, Williamson, Johnson and Franklin counties.

“There’s no room for failure - this is going to happen and we are going to do the best we can,” LeQuatte said. “Our hope and expectation is that we will continue in-person learning all year long and that we can return to normal sooner than later, but we have to be realistic and have the plans in place.”

The Illinois State Board of Education released new guidelines to school officials and the public on Tuesday; however, LeQuatte said those guidelines will take time to implement.

“I don’t know if everyone is ready...No,” LeQuatte said. “I do know that they do have ideas. I do expect that our region will get together and start looking over the plans.”

Annette Jaynes is a fourth grade teacher at Lewis Elementary School. She’s been teaching for 27 years. She, too, said there’s a lot of work to be done.

“It’s a lot to process, and there’s a lot of work to be done, and a lot still has to be decided. there are so many questions that are not answered in the report,” she said.

But many questions still remain unanswered, Jaynes said.

“What are we going to do about high risk staff and high risk students? What kind of things are we going to put in place to address that? We are going to need smaller class sizes,” Jaynes asked.

As a representative for the Illinois Education Association, Jaynes also mirrors the IEA concern for social distancing and the amount of PPE available for students and staff.

Both Jaynes and LeQuatte asked for parents’ patience in the process.

“It will take time and patience to work through those things. and we are going to need parents and the community to come together and help and support,” Jaynes said. “School district and the educators and all of these endeavors. it’s going to take all of to make it work.”

LeQuatte agreed. She said, “We are just basing our plans on the best benefit for your student - their health, their safety and their education.”

According to Governor Pritzker, each school district will determine how to implement the guidance based on its unique student enrollment, staffing, technological capacity and more.

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